10 Beautiful Waterfalls in Iceland

Almost everywhere in Iceland is a beautiful waterfall. They are literally everywhere. Simply driving around, you’ll probably run into a few waterfalls! Many of the waterfalls in Iceland are easy accessible by car and some you can even hike up! I partnered with travel bloggers to bring you the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland to help plan your trip!

Why are there so many waterfalls in Iceland?

Iceland is an incredible place for geography – from glaciers to volcanic rock it literally has everything. Mountains and waterfalls dot the island in a variety of shapes and sizes. The crazy weather in Iceland also helps create new waterfalls with bursts of rain and snow. (When we visited in November it literally rained/snows at least part of EVERY day!) One minute it can be sunny and the next is a thunderstorm. Even in the warmer months, the glaciers are melting and the waterfalls are fed.

This post is organized from Reykjavik heading southeast – so counterclockwise around the island!

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Öxarárfoss

Recommended by Em of That Travelista

Öxarárfoss is not a particularly tall waterfall, nor a particularly wide nor powerful one. But with its frosty blue waters that seemingly glow in contrast with the black, rocky cliff it runs down, Öxarárfoss is a sight not to be missed while in Iceland.

Luckily for travelers, this stunning waterfall is located within one of the most popular attractions in Iceland, Þingvellir National Park, making it easy to visit while exploring the famous Golden Circle. Those wanting to head straight to the waterfall can pull up right to the parking lot sharing its name, while those exploring the rest of Þingvellir’s biggest sights will inevitably pass Öxarárfoss while following the main path.

In addition to being stunning, Öxarárfoss also holds an interesting place in Icelandic folklore. This waterfall was believed to predict the fortune of the coming year, running either red with wine for prosperity or red with blood for war at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Öxarárfoss is worth a spot on your Iceland itinerary year round, especially considering it’s free to visit. But those who prefer to see it flowing should avoid visiting in the very middle of winter, when the waterfall is entirely frozen.

Oxararfoss - one of the most Beautiful waterfalls in Iceland
Öxarárfoss. Photo by That Travelista.

Gullfoss Falls

Recommended by Me of The Directionally Challenged Traveler

Located a short two hour drive from Reykjavik, and on the Golden Circle, the Gullfoss waterfall is different than other waterfalls. The waterfall is made of two stages and drops. The Hvítá river travels from the glacier Langjökull then cascades down. The waterfall is “only” 105 feet (32 meters) down the two stages, but it is quite beautiful. The first cascade is 36 feet (11 meters), while the second one is 70 feet (21 meters).

The canyon on both sides of the waterfall can be 70 feet in the air. Geologists believe the canyon was formed at the beginning of the last ice age by glacial outbursts! Depending on when you visit, the amount of water changes. In the summer there is a lot more water-dropping than in the winter. However, no matter when you visit, if you get close to the falls, the powerful spray will get you wet!

Seljalandsfoss

Recommended by Michelle of Moyer Memoirs

Seljalandsfoss is located on Iceland’s Ring Road in the southern region of the country.  It has a spectacular 197-foot (60m) drop from a high cliff.  There are several viewing areas, boardwalks, and staircases to a higher platform, so that you can get a full view of the falls. 

The unique feature of this waterfall is that the full view even includes the backside of the falls since there is a path and cave behind Seljalandsfoss that is open to visitors in good weather when it is not icy.  The 360-degree view of this waterfall is very popular, making this a must-see stop for many tourists on their southern Iceland ring road itinerary.  The full power of the run-off from the glaciers on the Eyjafjallajokull volcano is appreciated as mist from the waterfall forms a blanket on clothing and camera lenses.  Proper attire and camera gear protection are definitely required at this site.

Access to Seljalandsfoss is free, but a parking fee is collected at a kiosk in the parking lot.  There are small restroom facilities and food available.  The best time to go to Seljalandsfoss to admire its beauty is anytime.  Even when Iceland has limited daylight in the winter, this waterfall is lit up with spotlights so that it can be visited day or night.

Seljalandsfoss - one of the most Beautiful waterfalls in Iceland
Seljalandsfoss. Photo by Moyer Memoirs

Skógafoss

Recommended by Me of The Directionally Challenged Traveler

Perhaps the most famous (and beautiful) waterfall in Iceland is the spectacular Skógafoss. With a drop of 180 feet (60 meters) and a width of 75 feet (25 meters) it’s also one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland. Because of its size, it produces a lot of mist which can often cause single or double rainbows. Unfortunately, we visited in November, so it was rainy and cloudy most of the day when we were there.

You can climb 527 steps to the top of Skógafoss to an observation platform. The view is incredible from the top. Located right off the ring road, you can see the waterfall from the road.

Legend has it that behind Skógafoss you can find a chest filled with gold and treasures. Around 900, the Viking Settler Þrasi Þórólfsson hid the chest!

Skogafoss is one of the most famous & beautiful waterfalls in Iceland.
Me walking to Skogafoss Waterfall. Photo by The Directionally Challenged Traveler

Kuvernufoss

Recommended by Sunetra or Globetrotting Su

One of the hidden gems and off the tourist radar is Kvernufoss. A stunning waterfall with a drop of 30 meter rests in a semi-hidden gorge in South Iceland that offers exceptional views. From Skogar Cultural Heritage Museum, an easy hiking trail of 15-20 minutes will lead into the gorge Kvernugil by the river Kverna (not to be confused with the Kverná River, which flows in North Iceland).

Open all year around, it’s best to visit during spring, summer & autumn and has no entrance fee. During summer, one can walk all the way behind this waterfall and look out through the misty cascade. Standing behind the waterfall, one can feel the power of this waterfall and it is simply magical. However, it’s unsafe during winter to walk behind the waterfall due to the falling icicles. The moss coated cliffs of lava rock all around gives such a mystical and moody vibe to this surrounding which makes for excellent photography.

What makes Kvernufoss particularly special, however, is the fact that it is overlooked on the vast majority of South Coast tours even though it is very close to the Ring road. One of the few places in Iceland where one can enjoy the stunning views of the waterfall with absolutely no one around. It’s an ideal place to make a small picnic and enjoy the meal with this unforgettable view.

Kuvernfoss - one of the most Beautiful waterfalls in Iceland
Kuvernfoss Waterfall. Photo by Globetrotting Su
Read More: 3 Day Itinerary for Reykjavik, Iceland

Foss á Síðu

Recommended by Martha of May Cause Wanderlust

One of the best things about driving in Iceland is the stunning beauty you will witness from the road – and Foss á Síðu is a prime example of that.

It has neither the magnitude nor ferocious power of more famous waterfalls in Iceland, but it is breathtakingly beautiful, and shows a more delicate side of the country.  I love the soft curves of the rock, and the symmetry of the green slopes.  

You will find it in a hamlet off the ring road in South-East Iceland, about 14km east of Kirkjubæklaustur and 58km west of Skaftafell.  You can visit all year round, but I think the best time to go is in summer, when the surrounding countryside is at its most vibrant green. It is free to visit, which is great if you are exploring Iceland on a budget

You can’t get right up close to the waterfall, as it is on private land. However, you can turn off the ring road and pull in a side road to take photos from the gate.

Fun fact: the farm at Foss á Síðu has been inhabited since the 9th century and is mentioned in the Book of Settlements, a medieval record of Norse settlements in Iceland.

Foss a sidu - one of the most Beautiful waterfalls in Iceland
Foss á Síðu. Photo by May Cause Wanderlust

Svartifoss

Recommended by Cynthia of Sharing the Wander

Svartifoss is a tall, narrow waterfall that cascades over dark basalt rocks inside Skaftafell National Park.

Its name translates to “Black Falls” because of the dark rocks surrounding it. It’s the midpoint on a stunning hike within the park. Start at the Skaftafell Vistors Center, then hike uphill (the first part is a bit steep). You’ll pass another one or two waterfalls before you see the magnificent Svartifoss.

You’ll first see the waterfall from above, dropping 80 meters to form it’s own basin in the park. You’ll then follow the path to the base of the waterfall. This is a great time to take a break and admire the waterfall. From here you’ll continue across a bridge and up to some stunning mountain views. Continue along to find traditional turf houses- a rare sight in Southern Iceland. While the waterfall is beautiful, what makes this hike worthwhile is the variety of views along the way- from the plunging waterfall to snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Skaftafell Visitors Center is located just outside the town of Hof. Stop into the center for maps before you head out. The full loop hike to Svartifoss is about 3 km, and takes 2-3 hours depending on your pace. There is no charge for the hiking in the park.

Bringing the Kid with you to Iceland? Check out 10 Amazing Things to Do in Iceland with Kids

Svartifoss - one of the most Beautiful waterfalls in Iceland
Svartifoss. Photo by Sharing the Wander

Selfoss

Recommended by Anurdha of Country Hopping Couple

With a height of only 10 meters, Selfoss Waterfalls is not the most famous or the most visited waterfalls in Iceland. But what makes it a must-visit attraction in Iceland is the width of the waterfalls, which is around 100 meters, much larger than the Dettifoss. Shaped like a horseshoe, there are many small falls that make for a graceful view. 

Selfoss Waterfalls is located in the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon in Northern  Iceland that is within the reachable Diamond Circle Route. Selfoss Waterfalls is truly a hidden gem, because not many people actually venture to these waterfalls. However, the truth is Selfoss Waterfalls is only 1 km away (30 minutes walk ) from the famous Dettifoss and they share a common car park.  This is also partly the reason why Selfoss is overshadowed by Dettifoss.   If you want to combine both these falls, you will be able to view the west side of Selfoss, which is only a part view. 

We recommend driving to the east side of the car park, which is a detour, to enjoy the complete panoramic view of the Selfoss Waterfalls. However, do note that the roads are gravel, narrow and has potholes.  

Selfoss. Photo by Country Hopping Couple.

Dettifoss

Recommended by Ashley and Kelsey of The Bratpacker Gals

Dettisfoss - one of the most Beautiful waterfalls in Iceland
Dettifoss. Photo by the Bratpacker Gals

Dettifoss is in the northeast region of Iceland. These falls are known as the second most powerful in Europe, second to Rhine Falls in Switzerland. Dettifoss is pretty much as far as you can get from the capital so not overrun by tourists and still free to visit. It’s a great stop during your Ring Road drive. The falls are a bit off of Road 1 and can be accessed by road 862 (west view) or 864 (east view). Road 862 is paved, a more comfortable drive to a free parking lot for the falls, and a preferred view. If you are interested in a bumpy adventure, road 864 is for you. Besides their power, the falls are pretty unique because of the way the water drops at a curve in the river making it look as though the river disappears into the earth from some angles. There are viewing platforms, but you may stand right up next to the falls on some large rocks which can be a real vertigo trigger since the drop is about 144 feet and the mist rises clear to the top. The best time to view the falls is during summertime since the roads are more clear. 

Goðafoss

Recommended by Suzanne of Meandering Wild

Goðafoss waterfall is located in the north of Iceland close to Lake Myvatn and the northern city of Akeyuri.  Compared to some waterfalls in Iceland, it is easy to reach as it is on ring Road 1 with a large parking area and is free to visit. 

From the parking area there are marked boardwalks down to viewing areas which allow you to see the waterfall fully.  Downstream from the main waterfall is a second smaller waterfall and a bridge that takes you to the second viewing areas on the far side of the waterfall.

The waterfall is a stunning horseshoe waterfall  with 4 distinct falls all dropping into a wide plunge pool.  The best place to see the waterfall are from the marked viewing areas close to the parking area or in the summer months from the small pebble beach.  In the winter the steps down are too icy and the area is closed.

The best time of the year to visit Goðafoss is in the winter when it is partially frozen and surrounded by snow.  It is also the perfect location to stop and watch the northern lights as the river runs roughly from north to south. It’s one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland.

Godafoss - one of the most Beautiful waterfalls in Iceland
Goðafoss. Photo by Meandering Wild
Read More: Free & Cheap Things to do in Reykjavik, Iceland

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